Before you start reading, I want to set the tone and the boundaries for this article, which might offend some readers.
I believe that what I have written needs to be said, and is justified. The original draft of this article happened in a single sitting as a stream of consciousness, but it has taken me two years to feel ready to publish it. You will likely sense the emotion and trauma behind the words that come from my experience as a gay, queer man; as a human being, who has suffered the prejudice that many religious individuals invoke upon queer people.
If anything, I am attacking systems, ideologies, and individuals who refuse to accept facts.
I believe that every human being deserves dignity and the right to exist. There is nothing tenable that disqualifies any human being from having the freedom to be who they are, to exist, or to receive life-saving medical care. No single person should ever have the right to make laws that limit human freedom of self-expression and sovereignty.
Thoughtful, engaging comments are welcome, but I will not tolerate personal attacks or moral pronouncements against my person or thinking. With this piece, I am seeking to dig deeper into the systemic issues that are corroding humanity. I trust your feedback will help me to continue and take more risks to challenge the dangers of uncritical, ideological thinking.
With that, I hope this article makes you think and question ideas you may never have considered.
The early Taoists, who shared the wisdom of the collected verses of the Tao Te Ching, knew that there was no being in the sky that was all-powerful and all-knowing.
Instead, they saw creation as an unknowable thing — spontaneous, and of itself so.
It is often asked, “What does Tao mean?” The Tao was never meant to mean God, nor was it religious in meaning. The Tao is everything, and it is also an action — it is how we make our way in the world.
The opening verse of the Tao Te Ching reads:
“The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
The unnameable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.”1
We are told in the first verse that the Tao is unnameable — a paradox because for us to communicate and understand each other, we need words.
Thus, the Tao is not an idea that can be easily labelled, described, or categorized. But a name has been given, thus giving the idea its origin. My take is that what we call the universe is the unnamable that is eternally real.
If only we could just leave things there and go about living our lives…
Why in Tao’s name does this matter?
This article is a critical rant/opinion piece on religion — which I consider to be an existential failing of humanity.
I believe we can make our way in life without the need to believe in a god that explains away all that we can’t (or choose not to explain). It requires patience, critical thinking, and a willingness to change your mind and evolve. It also requires honest leaders who are willing to challenge faith-based ideologies as exclusionary, prejudiced, polarizing, and at worst, extremist leading to violence and insurrection.
Civilizations through the ages have anthropomorphized the idea of God into a person, most commonly with the characteristics of a man.
When one or a handful of people wanted power, they created secular rules and an organization for belonging and ritual.
Religion morphed into masculine dominance and patriarchal control. This has most certainly contributed to this time of illiberalism and unsustainable capitalism. Science came along and sought to explain the Tao, God, the universe, and creation, as having come from the Big Bang — a spontaneous, of itself so, non-conscious originating action.
If you can believe in a god in heaven, why can’t you also believe that there is no god?
History shows us what we did not know, including the mysteries in this world that we may never solve. On the one hand, why do we need a singular answer for how we got here? Why do we need to prostrate ourselves to a God, anthropomorphized into a father figure, raining down his wrath upon us? Sadomasochism anyone?
We are continuously learning new things about the universe, thanks to science.
What makes science radically different from religion and religious faith is that science seeks proof through investigation and analysis. As history demonstrates, new information adds to or discredits previous theories. Science is organic in that it develops and evolves.
Religion is artificial in that it is stagnant and ideological.